Eddie Pepperell continues redemption, wins British Masters

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Eddie Pepperell continues redemption, wins British Masters

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Eddie Pepperell continues redemption, wins British Masters

Hard to believe Eddie Pepperell had to return to the European Tour Qualifying School at the end of 2016, and was outside the top 500 in the world in May last year. Now he’s a two-time European Tour winner and a world top 40 player.

Amazing what hard work and determination can do.

The 27-year-old is looking forward to his Masters debut after victory in the $4 million Sky Sport British Masters at Walton Heath, his second European Tour victory, and second of the season following the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in February. Pepperell led wire to wire, returning a level-par 72 in the final round for a 9-under 279 to grind out a one-shot victory over Sweden’s Alexander Bjork.

The first-place check of $658,000 takes Pepperell to seventh on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, and into the top 40 of the Official World Golf Ranking.

Pepperell began the final round with a three-shot lead, but struggled to find his “A” game in the rain that swept over the 1981 Ryder Cup venue. That much was obvious on the first hole when he snapped his tee shot into the trees. He managed to save par but went to the turn with only a one-shot advantage. An eagle at the par-4 10th hole when he holed his 120-yard second shot with a 9-iron restored the status quo. Consecutive bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes set up a tense finish but two good pars gave him the trophy.

“It was a grind, tough day with the conditions,” Pepperell said. “It was just a case of hanging in all day, really. It was miserable. When I said (I wanted) British weather yesterday, I didn’t expect it to be quite so miserable, but I’m thrilled to be stood here with the trophy.

“I wasn’t really nervous. Maybe that’s because the conditions were so brutal. It was just a case of just trying to hit it forward. But I felt like my emotions were pretty good and my temperament was pretty solid all week, really.”

Pepperell can look forward to a Masters debut next year after his best season as a professional. Aside from the two victories, he has two seconds and another three top-10 finishes this season. He came close to making the European Ryder Cup team.

Not bad for a guy who lost his game two years ago.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for me to go out there obviously to America and play a few more majors and WGCs. I haven’t got my head around that, but I intend to.”

A 113th-place finish on the 2016 European Tour money list meant Pepperell had to return to the European Tour Qualifying School. He was 523rd in the world in May last year and seemingly going nowhere. Things were so bad he wrote on his regular blog that he “had fallen out of love with golf.”

In an interview with Golfweek, he said: “I experienced how difficult the game can be when you lose some confidence, and you stand on a few tees and make mental errors and hit bad shots because of what’s going through your head. That had never happened to me before.

“I’ve never worked so hard. I had a sense of fear and dread of not knowing where I’m going to hit my driver, or going to bed thinking ‘I’ve got to hit that tee shot tomorrow, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I stand on that tee.’”

He rallied spectacularly to finish 41st on the money list last year.

“I went from playing in all the big events to scrambling for places to play,” he told Golfweek. “I was suddenly playing for a fraction of the prize money I was used to playing for. Maybe that focused me. I don’t know.”

He was certainly focused for four days at Walton Heath. Gwk

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